Need a reason to party this week? We’ve got your back: International Women’s Day is happening this Wednesday, March 8 and it’s a big. freaking. deal. Celebrated in homes, schools and workplaces around the globe, IWD is a day to celebrate progress, call for change and celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Think we’re stoked? You’d better believe it.
The United Nations has made “Women in the changing world of work” the official theme for 2017, and it just so happens that we have some pretty brag-worthy women working behind the scenes with us here at Vibe who are doing just that, including our project manager (and architect) Rachelle Freegard, lead architect Kristen Linn, and interior designer, Stéphanie Isaacs, all from Rice Fergus Miller.
This week, we were able to tear Kristen and Stéphanie away from their work just long enough to get an inside look at what makes them tick. We’ll start with Kristen because, when it comes to having her and Rachelle at the helm of our architectural ship as lead architect and project manager, respectively, we know that’s something exceptional. Why? Because women continue to be vastly underrepresented within the world of architecture: a mere 16% of members of the American Institute of Architects are female.
Rachelle, Kristen and Stéphanie are a design force to be reckoned with in and of themselves. Together, these women are unstoppable, shaping the look, feel and experience of Vibe in ways that will forever change your definition of ‘workplace’. Join us in raising a glass to the women who are literally ‘changing the world of work’ — not just in their world, but all of ours.
Vibe: What gets your creative energy flowing? Where do you find your inspiration?
KL: Problems. When something isn’t working right, that’s what gets my creative energy flowing. I want to fix it! Design, at its heart, is problem solving. I am inspired by people and genuinely just want to help people.
Vibe: What is your favorite element of the new Vibe building?
KL: I think there are a few elements that stand out and will surprise people, but my favorite element is the unisex bathrooms. The soul of this building is inclusion. Everything has been about the people who come here, how they will feel and how they will interact. It will truly be an experience.
Vibe: Sustainability and healthier, happier living are two things we’ve talked a lot about with this project. What are some of the ways that this is being taken into consideration from a design perspective?
KL: There is an overarching LEED goal for this project (achieving the globally recognized certification as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building), but one of my favorite ways that sustainability and healthier, happier living has been considered on this project is the interaction with the outdoors. Where feasible, we have incorporated operable windows with loads of natural light, along with the benefits of fresh air. Both Vibe and Crabtree Kitchen + Bar have access to the outdoors through their own decks and stairs to the adjacent Centennial Park. Personally, I am way more productive, and happier, when I can sit near a window and see nature.
Vibe: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve faced while working on the Vibe building?
KL: The biggest challenge has been fitting all of the programs into the site and meeting all of the criteria for each tenant: Vibe Coworks, Crabtree Kitchen + Bar, ChocMo and High Spirits. Our team has had a lot of fun working through this puzzle.
Vibe: According to a 2016 survey by Women in Architecture, 1 in 5 women worldwide say they would not encourage a woman to start a career in architecture. How do you feel about that?
KL: I feel like I should be more well-versed in this topic than I am. I head this a lot in the beginning of my career. I am interested to know what the age bracket is of the women who were surveyed. From what I’ve been told, architecture was a more male-dominated profession and could often feel like a ‘boys’ club.’ Construction sites can often be an interesting place for women as well. Honestly, from what I’ve experienced in most offices, it’s a fairly equal split. Another thing that can turn women off from the profession is often the pay and benefits compared to the time/effort worked. But I don’t think that it just an issue that impacts women; I think it is much more of a problem within the profession, when compared to other professions that take as much schooling and licensing as architecture does.
Vibe: If you could design for anyone, who would it be?
KL: I would design for a group of people interested in reducing home costs, hopefully enabling more people to afford homes. There is a group associated with Auburn University in Alabama called Rural Studio, that does these $20K homes. It’s really inspiring. I would love to design smaller modular homes like the old Sears homes that could be ordered from catalogues and assembled like a kit of parts by the homeowner. I enjoy the puzzle of making small spaces functional. Making an affordable home would be an added bonus.
Next up, Stéphanie Isaacs’ take on design, inspiration and women in the future of work…